ALTRINCHAM (2) 2 FOREST GREEN ROVERS (1) 2
played on Saturday, 14 November, 2009, at 3pm
For the second year running Alty let a two-goal lead slip against FGR but at least this time the Robins hung on for a point. Stonehouse should have put the visitors ahead after just 15 seconds but the FGR captain made a hash of a one on one with Coburn. Altrincham took the lead in the 13th minute when Williams's powerful header at the back post converted Doughty's corner from the left. Senior made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute when he finished well after good work from Little. But Alty then lost their way and FGR scored a well-worked goal through Smith after 31 minutes.
Forest Green had the better of a second half played in a stiff breeze and finally equalised through Rigg, with less than five minutes left. But it had taken a number of saves from Coburn to keep them at bay. FGR almost snatched a winner in added time but a goalbound shot hit an Alty man on the goal line.
Right: Greg Young tops the pile as Alty celebrate their second goal, scored by Chris Senior. Colin Little, Anthony Danylyk and Aaron Burns are the other players seen.
REFEREE: Mr B Khatib
Chris Senior returned to league action after his ban but both Tom Kearney and James Smith remained suspended. However, Chris Denham returned from injury after his run out in the midweek CSC game. Nicky Clee dropped to the bench as Aaron Burns returned to the starting line-up. New signing, defender Andrew Owens was on the bench. In defence, Andrew Pearson, who had started Tuesday's CSC match, gave way to Shaun Densmore at right-back.
FGR had improved their results since their change of manager but, nevertheless, they arrived in one of the relegation places.
Altrincham were on a run of five successive defeats as their fine start to the season had stalled. Before the match, at 1pm, the heavens had opened and torrential rain lasted for the best part of an hour and a half but Neil Brown's pitch held up well to the deluge.
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 5. Greg YOUNG, 3. Matt DOUGHTY, 10. Chris DENHAM, 7. Robie LAWTON, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 25. Aaron BURNS; 9. Colin LITTLE, 19. Chris SENIOR. Subs: 11. Nicky CLEE, 13. Russell SAUNDERS, 18. Michael WELCH, 21. Andrew PEARSON, 27. Andrew OWENS
FOREST GREEN ROVERS (All green) : 1. Terry Burton; 32. Jared Hodgkiss, 5. Mark Preece, 29. Joe O'Cearuill, 3. Curtis McDonald, 10. Conal Platt, 11. Jonathan Smith, 7. Dave Brown, 6. Paul Stonehouse, 27. Sean Rigg, 16. Craig Rocastle. Subs: 12. Jon Else, 26. Dave King, 14. Danny Powell, 17. Tom Pass, 18. Steve Davies
After five successive defeats, which had culminated in an embarrassing home defeat to Witton Albion, from three divisions below the BSP, Alty manager Graham Heathcote pulled no punches in his programme notes for this match, accusing his players of resting on their laurels thanks to having contracts which protected them from dismissal. But the unhappy situation almost got worse for Alty straight from the kick off when Stonehouse found himself completely unmarked in the Alty box with only Coburn to beat - and just 15 seconds on the clock. But the FGR captain made an awful mess of the situation, shooting comfortably wide to give Altrincham a reprieve.
After this, Altrincham started tentatively but play was halted after a little more than five minutes when local residents succeeded in throwing three additional footballs onto the pitch which they had presumably amassed during the warm-up. But Altrincham belatedly came to life when Burns got up the left wing and, from his excellent cross, Senior met the ball well. But goalkeeper Burton was lucky to see the ball bounce off his legs as it headed towards the net (9 mins).
Burns soon excelled again when Doughty and Senior fed the Northwich loanee and, from another fine cross from the left, Little connected with a goalbound shot which Burton saved well at the cost of a corner (12 mins). From the left, Doughty's corner was met well by Williams whose powerful header went into the net off a defender, stationed on the line, to give Altrincham the lead (13 mins).
Altrincham continued to press but, now, Senior was given offside as Burton dropped a Denham cross from the right. When Danylyk was felled by Rocastle, the FGR man earned a lecture from Mr Khatib who officiated impressively (17 mins). Following a Young foul at the other end, Rocastle headed wide from Platt's ball. Altrincham made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute when a move, started by Lawton, came to Little, who did well to shake off a challenge and feed Senior. The Alty striker, making his first league appearance after suspension, fired the ball firmly into the top of the net, to Burton's left. So, it was 2-0, a lead Alty had also held in the corresponding match last season- which they had ultimately lost 2-5!
In the 25th minute, Alty had an early warning that FGR were again not going to lie down. The impressive Rigg, on loan from Bristol Rovers, fed Platt and then Brown. The last-named found Smith and it took a point-blank save from Coburn to stop FGR from scoring. Play was now again interrupted as extra balls appeared on the pitch at the away end.
Overall, FGR were passing the ball about better than Altrincham and they got their deserved reward when Rigg was instrumental in an advance up the left which ended with Smith arriving at the near post, from where he smartly made it 2-1 (31 mins).
The balance of the game had now changed, as FGR won a corner and enjoyed the majority of possession. When Rigg crashed a superb 25-yarder against the underside of the bar, the ball bounced out and Alty could count themselves very lucky to retain their lead (38 mins). Soon afterwards, Rigg again tried his luck from a distance but, this time, Coburn held the shot (40 mins). But Alty had a great chance to restore their two-goal lead soon afterwards when Densmore found Little and, from his cross from the right, Senior seemed certain to score. But he miscued his effort and the ball span well to the left of goal. With the game now into added time, Coburn made a superb save, leaving Alty still a goal in front but they could so easily have been a couple of goals adrift.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1|
The second half got off to a scrappy start as the wind strengthened behind the backs of Altrincham. Denham won the half's first corner but the Alty wide man was unable to impose himself on the FGR defence this afternoon (53 mins). Play stuttered on, till Altrincham brought on new signing Andrew Owens, in place of Denham, who seems to be less than fully fit. The new man, a central defender, surprisingly slotted into central midfield (58 mins).
As the hour mark passed, Coburn had to be alert to rush out and clear a through ball which had evaded Williams (62 mins). Soon afterwards Powell, on loan from MK Dons, came on for FGR in place of Brown (67 mins). The game was hardly a classic but FGR were playing the more fluent football and it took another important save from Coburn to stop them levelling (72 mins). Soon after this, Clee replaced Burns, who after his lively opening to the game, had been kept quiet by FGR (75 mins).
Although Alty then won a corner, overall in the second half Alty were not causing Burton much concern in the visitors’ goal. Indeed, Rovers continued to play some neat passing football which kept Alty on the back foot. FGR got their deserved reward in the 85th minute when Rocastle played the ball forward and set Rigg free. He fired a shot past Coburn to level the scores at 2-2. Rain now started to fall heavily as the game went into two added minutes, with Altrincham being pressed back by Rovers.
Two minutes into added time, Danylyk was injured and had to be replaced by Welch. In the third added minute Alty were fortunate to see a well-struck shot cleared off their goal line by a defender as the visitors looked much the more likely to take all of the points. But Altrincham rode out the closing minutes to emerge with a point; their fifth home draw of a season which has seen them win just twice in ten home fixtures in the league.
Whilst this draw stopped Alty's run of five successive league and cup defeats, the outcome was a disappointment after having gained a two-goal lead. After the opening half hour, Altrincham created few goalmouth threats and it was they who ultimately were the more satisfied with the point gained from this encounter. It was a just reflection of the game that Stuart Coburn was named as Altrincham's man of the match. Without three excellent saves from the Alty keeper, the visitors would have taken all three points.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 2|